Saturday, April 20, 2013

Island Times

            Do you sometimes feel like you are all alone? Do you feel like God has you on an island all by yourself? These past few weeks have been like that for me. I have felt like the Lord has left me alone, I read and study, but it just seems like I get nothing from it. I spend my time in prayer and seeking Him, just to hear His voice, but nothing comes. There are times in our lives when we will experience a sense of exile, a sense of being alone. But we know that the Lord God promises to never leave us nor forsake us. (Heb.13:5) So why then do we sometimes feel like we are all alone on a deserted island with no hope of deliverance?

                The Israelites found themselves in exile many times. In the time of Jeremiah, the Lord had carried them away captive to Babylon; they were beginning to lose heart of deliverance, so the Lord spoke to them about why they were where they were, and what He wanted to do through them while they were there. These words were like sweet nectar to my soul this morning, and I pray that they are to as well to all my fellow islanders.
                “Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, to all who were carried away captive, whom I have caused to be carried away from Jerusalem to Babylon:” Jeremiah 29:4. The Lord says to the children of Israel that have found themselves in a place of exile, in a place where they feel like they are all alone, and that He has caused this to happen. You are not in this place by chance. You are where you are because of the sovereign hand of God has chosen to put you there. We are where we are in our lives because God has led us here, He has placed us on this little island, but He has not left us.
                “Build houses and dwell in them; plant gardens and eat their fruit. Take wives and beget sons and daughters; and take wives for your sons and give your daughters to husbands, so that they may bear sons and daughters-that you may be increased there, and not diminished.” Jeremiah 29:5.
                The Lord says to those of us who find ourselves marooned on an island to embrace this time of our lives. We are not here by accident or because of someone else’s hand, we are here because God has placed us in this particular time for a specific reason. So, while we find ourselves floating in the waters of our little islands we are to live normally. We are to keep walking. We are to “dwell”, we are to abide in this period of our lives and enjoy it. We are where we are because God has chosen this place for us; He has created this little island just for you. He has preordained this time period in your life. He has not left you, and He has not forsaken you, He is still with us, He is right beside us. He desires that we embrace this time, that we enjoy this time of our lives and that we live it to its fullest.

                He also tells us that this time in our lives is for a purpose. He desires to increase us, He desires to grow us. The Lord says, “That you may be increased, and not diminished.” This means that He wants to make us more than we are now. He has you here, on this island, to grow you, to make you increase so that you are able to receive the perfect plan He has prepared for you. This island time is a time for growth, a time to increase in your knowledge and understanding of the Lord. There are no accidents with God. He has you where you are for a purpose and a reason. You may not understand it fully now, but in His timing He will show you and you will be increased in your faith and in your walk with Him. Sometimes, to take us to a higher place, the Lord has to draw us away, carry us away to a place of solitude, a place of exile. He has to take us out of our comfort zone and take us to a place where we have no other choice but to lean on Him.
                “And seek the peace of the city where I have caused you to be carried away captive, and pray to the Lord for it; for in its peace you will have peace.” Jeremiah 29:7. During this time of exile and quiet, we are to seek peace. To seek means to learn and to study. We are to seek the Lord, use this time in our lives as an opportunity to draw closer to Him, to draw from Him the peace that we need to survive the exile. Make this time a time of quiet study, of prayer and devotion to the Lord God. As we do this, we will begin to allow Him to work in our hearts so that we can receive the plans He has prepared for us.
                “For thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: Do not let your prophets and your diviners who are in your midst deceive you, nor listen to your dreams which you cause to be dreamed. For they prophesy falsely to you in My name; I have not sent them, says the Lord.” Jeremiah 29:7-8. Don’t let other discourage you. Seek the Lord during this time, during these periods of quiet and drawing away. If someone speaks something to you, go and seek the Lord, be wise in the choosing of friends during this time, for some seek their own purpose and cannot see the hand of the Lord working in your life.
                “For thus says the Lord; After seventy years are completed at Babylon, I will visit you and perform My good word toward you, and cause you to return to this place.” Jeremiah 29:10. In His good timing this period of exile, this island time will end. There is light at the end of this darkness, there is hope at the end of this exile. You are in this place for the purpose of God, to grow you, to prepare you to receive the plans He has created for you. Do not lose heart, but seek Him, press into Him, abide in Him during these periods of drought and captivity. God has taken you captive for His good pleasure. It may not seem like it is very pleasurable, but there is a reason for His carrying you away. He desires to work in you and through you, trust in His sovereign hand over your life.
                “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11. God has not brought you to this place to leave you. He has not left you, He is working in you to bring to pass the future He has planned and prepared for you. He is always working on your behalf. He has brought you here to prosper you, not to punish you. God has already laid out all the punishment we are ever to receive on Jesus Christ. He does not punish us for our sins, if He did, then Christ would have died in vain. He may chastise us and discipline us, but He never punishes us.

                “Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for me with all your heart. I will be found by you, says the Lord, and I will bring you back from your captivity…” Jeremiah 29:12-14. Use this time to pray, to seek, to draw closer to Him. He promises to hear us; He is there to be found. He will restore you, He will renew you, and He will take you to a higher place. He will not leave you marooned on this island forever. You are here for a purpose; you are alone on this island for His will to be done in your life. He desires to take you to a place that is greater than where you are now, He is working out His purpose for your life during this time of exile.
                God alone knows His thoughts toward you. No one else is going to understand this time in your life. But God knows why He has you where you are, and He knows what the outcome will be. Others will try to tell you what they think, what they see, but only God knows the purpose of why He has you in this place, at this particular time in your life. God has had a plan for your life since the foundations of the world, and He will accomplish it to the end. He can use any circumstance, person, place or thing to bring to pass His divine will for your life. Nothing is by chance, nothing is by accident, and we are all a part of a much greater plan.

                During these times of exile, these island times, we have to learn to submit to His sovereign will for our lives. We have to allow Him to work in us, and through us to bring to pass the promises He has given us. We need to patiently submit to God and the place that He has us. When we try to fight this place, when we try to make a raft and float away from this island, all we are doing is causing the chains of our captivity to take longer than necessary. God does not want us to struggle with Him; He wants us to lean on Him, to grow and to learn what He has for us during this time so that He can complete the work that He began in your life. We need to rest, to abide and to sit in His presence so that he can prepare our hearts for the multitude of blessings that will come when His full purpose is revealed to us. God’s plan for your life is much greater than you can ever think or imagine. Stop trying to swim off the island, instead, let us who are marooned learn to patiently submit to His sovereign will for our lives. Let go, and let God bring it to pass. In Jesus Name. Amen and Amen.